One of my absolute favourite words in French is “rayon de miel,” meaning honeycomb. In my mind, it’s synonymous with sunshine, warm weather and spring leading to summer. The days are getting longer and the temperature is slowly rising, and with the warm weather, the farmer’s market stands will soon be bursting with local fruits and veggies.
Honeycomb is like candy. You can cut off a piece and chew it, and every bite releases a little more honey that is tucked away inside (yes, you can eat it all, even the wax). It makes a beautiful garnish for all kinds of desserts, like this simple panna cotta, or even fancy tarts and ice cream cakes.
This panna cotta is refreshing and bursting with the intense, sweet flavour of honey. It’s a dessert to celebrate spring and all the gorgeous weather to come. I encourage you to invest in a good quality honey from your local farmer’s market because the intense flavour is perfect for this kind of dessert. I get mine from the same farm stand as my maple syrup, and they also conveniently sell the prettiest honeycomb, perfect to garnish the honey panna cotta before serving. You could get away without making the crumble topping, but why would you? That crumbly, crisp topping is a welcome contrast with the creamy panna cotta. If you’re short on time, I suggest purchasing some granola or crumbling up some shortbread cookies over top.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
For the honey panna cotta:
Canola oil, to grease inside of jelly moulds or ramekins
1 cup whipping cream
¼ cup wild flower honey
2 cups 2% milk
Seeds of 1/2 vanilla bean (optional)
1 1/2 packets gelatin powder (such as Knox) (note: each packet contains approximately 1 Tbsp gelatin)
For the honey oat crumble
¼ cup pecan halves, chopped fine
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup large flake oats
2 pinches salt
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 Tbsp wild flower honey
Wild flower honey for drizzling over top
Honeycomb and berries for garnish
1. First, make the honey panna cotta. Brush six 125-ml ramekins or jelly molds with canola oil and set aside on a tray.
2. In a medium saucepan, place honey, cream, milk and the seeds of half a vanilla bean (if using). Sprinkle gelatin over top and let stand 10 minutes off heat.
3. Place the saucepan on a burner and heat on medium-low, whisking constantly until the gelatin has dissolved (125°F). Strain the mixture into a 4-cup measurer or a large spouted jug. Let stand 30 minutes, whisking every so often, then divide between the prepared jelly molds and transfer the tray of panna cottas to the fridge. Refrigerate at least 4 hours, if not overnight.
4. Meanwhile, prepare the honey oat crumble. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment and set aside.
5. In a large bowl, combine the finely chopped pecans with the flour, oats, salt and cardamom. Work the softened butter into the dry mixture using your fingertips, and then add the honey. Continue working until the mixture resembles a fine crumble.
6. Transfer the crumble to the prepared baking sheet and bake until a deep golden brown, approximately 15 minutes, stirring every so often and breaking up any large clumps of crumble as needed. Let cool completely.
7. When you’re ready to serve, you can easily serve the panna cottas in the jelly molds but since you greased the molds first, you can also loosen the edges carefully with a sharp, thick knife and then invert each panna cotta onto a plate and serve with a drizzling of honey, lots of crumble topping, berries and pieces of honeycomb.
Janice Lawandi is a PhD-chemist-turned-baker with a serious sweet tooth, working as a recipe developer and food stylist in Montreal, Quebec. To learn more about Janice, visit her blog Kitchen Heals Soul.